"The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of Hell got hold upon me. I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech You, deliver my soul... You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling."
The great trouble which is here described very probably happened to David long after he had been a Believer. He had been living the life of faith, perhaps, for years, in a calm, happy and quiet manner. But by-and-by he met with outward tribulation and not a little of inward conflict. At some time or other it generally happens to a Believer, between the setting out at the wicket gate and the crossing of the last river, that he endures a great fight of afflictions. My observation leads me to notice that those who begin with rough times frequently have a smooth path afterwards, while others, whose first experience was very sunny and peaceful, meet with fierce conflicts farther on.
Let Believers, therefore, not count upon immunity from trouble, but let them reckon upon sufficient Grace for it. Let them believe that God's choicest letters of love are sent to us in black-edged envelopes. We are frightened at the envelope, but inside, if we know how to break the seal, we shall find riches for our souls.
Great trials are the clouds out of which God gives great mercies. Very frequently, when the Lord has an extraordinary mercy to send to us, He employs His rough and grizzled horses to drag it to the door. The smooth rivers of ease are usually navigated by little vessels filled with common commodities, but a huge galleon loaded with treasure traverses the deep seas. Let the children of God learn from this passage in David's experience that their best resort in trouble is prayer. When the sorrows of death compass you, pray! When the pains of Hell get hold upon you, pray! When you find trouble and sorrow, pray! Everything else which prudence and wisdom suggest is to be done in a time of difficulty, but none of these things are to be relied upon by themselves.
Many a troubled conscience feels the sorrows of death. That is to say he is the subject of griefs similar to those which beset men on their dying beds. I have passed through this state, myself, and I shall therefore describe it the more feelingly. What are the sorrows of death? One of the sorrows of a sinner's death is the retrospect. The dying sinner looks back and sees nothing in his life that yields him comfort. He could wish that the day had been darkness in which it was said that a child was born into the world, for he feels that his existence has been a blank and, worse than that, an insult to God and the cause of misery to himself. He cannot see a bright or hopeful spot in his whole history.
So, too, the man truly awakened weeps over a dreadful past and laments because all is evil and the very things he once gloried in are tarnished. He sees that to have been sin, which before he thought to have been righteousness! And he bemoans himself, saying within his heart, "Would God I had never been born." Many an awakened man has said, as John Bunyan did, that he wished he had been a frog or a toad, or a venomous serpent sooner than have been a man to have lived as he had lived. Are you feeling, dear Friend, or have you ever felt that sorrow of death? Some of us have felt it keenly.
The man lies tossing to and fro upon his deathbed and all his glory and beauty are gone. The bloom of health has departed from him. He is a very different man from what he was in the days of his agility and vigor—and he knows it. So is it with the sinner—he feels the pining sickness of sin consuming him as the moth consumes a garment. His moisture is turned into the drought of summer. His glory is as a faded flower and the excellency of his flesh, in which he boasted and said that he was no worse than others and, perhaps, was even better, is now passed away. The Spirit, when He blows upon man, finding all flesh to be grass, withers it all up—and so He destroys the glory of man's estate and makes his excellency decay till the man is sick to death of himself.
But now the cold chill of death has come upon all his powers and he hears Christ, in mercy, saying, "Without Me you can do nothing. No man can come to Me unless the Father, which has sent Me, draw him." A man experiences a dreadful paralysis in his soul when he is really and thoroughly awakened. The Spirit of God is making sure work of his conversion!Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Sermon Vol. 21, #1216 (Excerpt)